Local Work Group

Gully erosion in field. Photo taken by Staff.

What is a Local Work Group (LWG)?

The Local Work Group is a conglomeration of resource professionals, local landowners, crop and livestock producers, and other interest/business groups that gather to provide information, analysis, and recommendations to USDA officials in charge of implementing conservation in our County.

In other words, you tell us what the conservation issues are you are having on your land and we use that information to direct the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) dollars to conservation practices to resolve that resource concern.  Have gully erosion happening on your field? Gully erosion is the resource concern and a Water and Sediment Control Basin or Grassed Waterway would be conservation practice to implement. The more information we receive on the most important resource concerns to focus on, then that’s where the next year’s EQIP/CSP funding focuses.

Who can be part of the LWG?

Mature cover crop in corn stalks. Photo taken by Staff

Anybody and everybody who has some stake in Cottonwood county can participate in the LWG.

Farmers, livestock producers, ag groups like Corn and Soybean Growers, conservation groups like Pheasants Forever, homeowners/landowners in the county, land operators, other natural resource professionals like DNR, agribusiness like crop consultants or agronomists, other nonprofit groups.

Check out this short 10 minute video on our Youtube page here or view it on the Cottonwood SWCD Facebook page here about the different stakeholders of LWG.

Why be part of the LWG?

How else are we supposed to hear your voice? While the SWCD and NRCS have an idea on resource concerns in Cottonwood County, it’s you who are out in that field every day. It’s you who knows your fields inside and out and sideways. It’s you who works in the soil and directly experiences the hardships of the land and water. So why shouldn’t it be you who helps decide what conservation practice funding should focus on?

You may be asking yourself, what’s the point? The NRCS is just going to do what they want anyways and I have to compete Statewide, so I’ll never get funded. That’s not entirely true anymore, it was a truer statement 3 years. Since then, NRCS has changed that and the EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentive Program) and CSP (Conservation Stewardship Program) programs are more locally led on what conservation practices are funded. So you’re competing more in a 4 county to 15 (ish) county area.

Check out this short 4 minute video on our Youtube page here or view it on the Cottonwood SWCD Facebook page here about the importance of being part of the LWG.

Cover crop field day. Photo taken by Staff

How can you participate in the LWG?

Join us at our Local Work Group meeting on June 23rd or fill out a survey by June 10th and return it back to our office (LWG Survey PDF). We will use this information to help guide the in person meeting on June 23rd! Didn’t get to a survey in time? You are welcome to come to our meeting to voice your opinion there on our top resource concerns.

Join us in person for our Local Work Group meeting on June 23, 2022 at 11 am at the Cottonwood SWCD office (210 10th St, Windom, MN 56101)! Here we will use the survey information to narrow our resource concerns down to 2-3 of the top priorities for Cottonwood County that will help direct EQIP/CSP funding for 2023!

Windbreak planting. Photo taken by Staff.

So what happened in 2021 for EQIP/CSP in FY2022?

Our Local Work Group survey and meeting in 2021 determined Cottonwood County’s main resource concerns to be: Erosion Control, Water Resource Protection, and Soil Quality. That was narrowed down further into recommended conservation practices to install to help solve these resource concerns which were sheet & rill erosion, nutrient transport – fertilizer, and organic matter depletion.

In 2022 the main funded EQIP applications in our area (Jackson, Cottonwood, Watonwan, and Martin counties) were: conservation crop rotation, cover crops,, conservation cover, pest management, reduced tillage, and nutrient management.


What even is a Resource Concern?

A resource concern is a condition of the soil, water, air, plants, animals, or energy resource that doesn’t meet the minimum standard by NRCS for its long term sustained use of the resource. By identifying the top resource concerns in Cottonwood, we can focus funding on those issues. Still clear as mud? How about we give you some scenarios?

Check out our What’s that resource concern? online game. It’s really easy and super fun!

Check out this short 6 minute video on our Youtube page here or view it on the Cottonwood SWCD Facebook page here about the importance of being part of the LWG.

Scenario 1: You’re out harvesting this Fall, driving in the combine towards the back of your 80. It’s been a pretty wet year and we’ve had some 4-6 inch rains in July and August, they came hard and fast. You’re pretty sure everything is fine…then you come across a gully running through the field that’s 8 feet across and over 4 feet deep that stops you in your tracks. Resource concern: Classic gully erosion. Conservation practice: Grassed waterway, water and sediment control basin

Streambank erosion. Photo taken by staff.

Scenario 2: You’ve been applying fertilizer everywhere imaginable in your field, but not very strategically. You still have yet to see any kind of yield increase in certain areas of the field, but you’re applying, maybe to the point of overapplying, so it should be working right?? Resource concern: Nutrients transported to surface water or groundwater. Conservation practice: Nutrient management plan, cover crops

Scenario 3: You built a new house in Cottonwood County and you made it through the first year only to determine you must have built in a wind tunnel or something because your energy costs for heating and cooling were through the roof! Resource concern: Energy efficient equipment and facilities. Conservation practice: Farmstead windbreak

You get the idea now.